Pool Pump Timer - am I getting ripped off?

MollywithFloaties

New member
May 3, 2021
3
Fairfield County, CT
Hello all, brand new pool owner here. I bought my home in October so the pool was already closed. When the service company came to open it they informed me that I needed a timer because the one the previous home owner was using wasn't rated for the pump (Hayward Super Pump 1.5 hp).
I just received a quote from them to install one (no brand or model listed on estimate) for $478, with hardwired installation.
This seems very high to me.
In looking at the various options online, I see there are both hardwired models and regular plug ins. Since I'm just going to running this single pump on a standard 9 hour on/off, I'm wondering if any of the plug in models will do.
The home is very old and the electrical wiring is a mess - I just had the whole house rewired and an not interested in messing up the garage.(where the pump is). Can anyone help me understand if this is something I can DIY or is paying the nearly $500 reasonable?
Thank you so much!!
 

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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,063
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Welcome to TFP.

Your pump runs on either 115V or 230V and we don't know which one it is using.

Show us pics of the current electrical wiring for the pump back to the circuit breaker if you can.

You say the house electrical wiring is a mess. You need to understand the scope of what the electrician proposes to do for the nearly $500. If the wiring does not meet code then the electrcian may be required to do more than just install a timer to bring the pump circuit up to meet code.
 

MollywithFloaties

New member
May 3, 2021
3
Fairfield County, CT
Thank you, @ajw22. Here are some photos. Currently the pump is plugged into a GFI receptacle with a light switch that is powered by a single breaker (so I imagine 115v). The previous owner had it plugged into what looks like a very basic lights timer.

The heater also needs to be replaced. It's currently a multivolt but is being replaced with an electrical one.

An I right in assuming that timers aren't REQUIRED if one wants to simply push the switch every night? Would it be possible to simply upgrade the light switch to a smart switch? Or even just manually do it? Obviously not an ideal scenario but trying to limit my expenses this season.

I really appreciate the assistance. Thanks again.
 

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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,063
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
You have a 120 volt 15 amp GFCI breaker which is good except that the pump data plate says the pump requires 18.6 amps. You should have at least a 20 amp GFCI CB for that pump. The wiring to that outlet probably needs to be changed from #14 to #12 wire to be suitable for a 20 amp breaker.

You said the service company said the timer wasn't rated for the pump. They gave you the simple wife answer. The entire circuit - CB, wire, outlet, timer - is all not rated for the pump. That is why they quoted $500 to bring that circuit up to code to handle a pump that requires 18.6 amps.

Most smart switches cannot handle the inductive load of a pump or the 19 amps and will burn out.

You really need to get the pump circuit upgraded.

A timer is not required and you can turn your pump on and off manually.
 

gx22

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2014
65
CA
It may be good to upgrade your pump to a VS pump. For example, Pentair SuperFlo VS pump 342002 uses 13.6 amp max so you can keep your GFCI. It has a schedule timer so you can get rid of the mechanical timer. It is 120V/240V compatable. It saves you electricity and money.
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,063
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
It may be good to upgrade your pump to a VS pump. For example, Pentair SuperFlo VS pump 342002 uses 14.6 amp max so you can keep your GFCI. It has a timer so you can get rid of the mechanical timer. It is 120V/240V compatable. It saves you electricity and money.

That pump still needs a 20 amp CB.

NEC requires a CB not be loaded at more then 80% of rated amps. So a 20 amp CB should have a maximum load of 16 amps.

VS pump is good but Molly says she needs to save money right now.
 

gx22

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2014
65
CA
The pump takes 13.6 amp instead of 14.6 amp. This is 90% of 15A. You are right they need a 20A breaker. the CB part cost about $50.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,063
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
The pump takes 13.6 amp instead of 14.6 amp. This is 90% of 15A. You are right they need a 20A breaker. the CB part cost about $50.

And then with a 20 amp CB you need minimum #12 gauge wires between CB and outlet. I will bet there is #14 gauge wire now.
 

Orion7319

Well-known member
Jul 1, 2020
553
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Pool Size
19775
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
You have a 120 volt 15 amp GFCI breaker which is good except that the pump data plate says the pump requires 18.6 amps. You should have at least a 20 amp GFCI CB for that pump. The wiring to that outlet probably needs to be changed from #14 to #12 wire to be suitable for a 20 amp breaker.

You said the service company said the timer wasn't rated for the pump. They gave you the simple wife answer. The entire circuit - CB, wire, outlet, timer - is all not rated for the pump. That is why they quoted $500 to bring that circuit up to code to handle a pump that requires 18.6 amps.

Most smart switches cannot handle the inductive load of a pump or the 19 amps and will burn out.

You really need to get the pump circuit upgraded.

A timer is not required and you can turn your pump on and off manually.
Could they use a 20 amp GFCI breaker and then use this? I don’t know electrical codes...
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,063
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Could they use a 20 amp GFCI breaker and then use this? I don’t know electrical codes...

Can’t say if it will handle motor inductive loads.

I think a mechanical Intermatic timer will be more reliable.
 
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MollywithFloaties

New member
May 3, 2021
3
Fairfield County, CT
A lot to wrap my head around here!

Obviously the previous owner had been running this off a 15 amp for several years. I can clearly see that based on the rating it needs to be changed to a 20 but I'm just curious as to how the pump has worked this long on the 15.
I also alwaysbehunting thought 20 amp plugs were shaped differently (with a T), but this pump has a standard plug.
Is bringing it up to 20a a matter of code, safety, or both?

If I did look into getting the Pentair SuperFlo VS pump 342002, would that mean I could keep my current breaker and outlet? If it removes the cost of the wiring and timer install, as well as running more efficiently, it may end up as a net neutral cost.

I'm going to have another electrician over to look. Though your description makes a lot of sense, the pool tech never even looked at my breakers so I don't think they're including that in the cost. When I emailed them to ask if they were upgrading the wire and circuit, this was the response:
"We will be connecting a 110v which you have an outlet there for and then connect to the pump."

I think you've diagnosed an issue they weren't even aware of.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,063
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Just because it works does not mean it is to code or safe. Lots of things work that do not meet code, until they don't work.

Devices that require a 20 amp circuit may have a plug with a T so you can't plug it into a 15 amp outlet.

If I did look into getting the Pentair SuperFlo VS pump 342002, would that mean I could keep my current breaker and outlet?

To meet code that pump requires a 20 amp breaker using #12 wire.

Is bringing it up to 20a a matter of code, safety, or both?

Eventually you will start getting breaker trips due to overloading the breaker. That assumes the breaker works as designed. The code does not assume that and wants to keep you safe even if the breaker fails. 99.9% you will be ok. Do you want to be that 0.01 % who is not ok.

Here is someone who joined the 0.01% club...


I think you've diagnosed an issue they weren't even aware of.

This is a common problem. Some electricians turn a blind eye to things they are not asked about. It is your house and you can decide if you want things to code or not.
 
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Orion7319

Well-known member
Jul 1, 2020
553
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Pool Size
19775
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
A lot to wrap my head around here!

Obviously the previous owner had been running this off a 15 amp for several years. I can clearly see that based on the rating it needs to be changed to a 20 but I'm just curious as to how the pump has worked this long on the 15.
I also alwaysbehunting thought 20 amp plugs were shaped differently (with a T), but this pump has a standard plug.
Is bringing it up to 20a a matter of code, safety, or both?

If I did look into getting the Pentair SuperFlo VS pump 342002, would that mean I could keep my current breaker and outlet? If it removes the cost of the wiring and timer install, as well as running more efficiently, it may end up as a net neutral cost.

I'm going to have another electrician over to look. Though your description makes a lot of sense, the pool tech never even looked at my breakers so I don't think they're including that in the cost. When I emailed them to ask if they were upgrading the wire and circuit, this was the response:
"We will be connecting a 110v which you have an outlet there for and then connect to the pump."

I think you've diagnosed an issue they weren't even aware of.
You are wise to have another electrician take a look.
 

VetteBlue

Active member
May 15, 2015
38
Maryland
Where I am in Maryland, replacing with new wires/switch/breaker and bringing it up to code for less than $500 would be a bargain. If you want to save $, ask them to just install an outdoor on/off switch and you can turn it on and off yourself or just leave it running 24/7. However, as someone pointed out above, the timer part really isn't expensive.

I would also ask them to verify that they are pulling a new, bigger wire to match the bigger breaker.
 

djdonte

Well-known member
Mar 25, 2019
386
Houston, TX
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-30 Plus
A few thoughts:

I have experience with several of those "smart plugs." They are great for things like Christmas lights, small sump pumps, etc. Although I cant find the verbiage on that amazon ad, I can almost guarantee that plug wont support the current required for your pump motor. I have gone down this road with my 1.5hp waterfall pump and it just isn't possible without a relay or an automation center.

The people saying your wiring is inadequate are correct. You need a 20amp break at a minimum, and I would guess the 15 amp circuit is using 14/3 wire and you need 12/3 to go with your new 20 amp circuit. 500 bucks for this work is a steal. Also depending where you live you the electrician may need to pull a permit. Consider getting more than one bid, and ask if they are licensed, if the work will meet current NEC code, and if they need to/will pull permits.

I understand you are new pool owner so I'm gonna tell you that you don't want to deal with manually turning the pump on and off. If you arent planning on replacing the pump with a VS, buy an intermatic timer and have the electrician install that as well. Yes, I know this all sounds expensive but welcome to pool ownership LOL!
 
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